NCAA Basketball Picks: Pittsburgh vs. Syracuse

Steven Suarez

Saturday, January 18, 2014 5:26 PM GMT

Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 5:26 PM GMT

The first ever ACC battle between Syracuse and Pittsburgh tips off this afternoon and we've come up with our favorite college basketball pick for what should be a fantastic game. What's the best play?

Odds Overview

For the moment we find Syracuse favored by five points at home. The Orange are still undefeated (17-0) and have also been terrific against the spread at 9-4. The Panthers are at 16-1 SU but a poor 5-9 ATS.

Keep checking back with SBRodds.com to see what oddsmakers come up with for the O/U. Both defenses have excelled throughout the season, with Pittsburgh allowing 60.1 PPG so far and Syracuse even better at 58.4 PPGA.

Pittsburgh Panthers

Some weren't too sure that the Panthers were for real after a weak non-conference schedule, but they've certainly proven themselves so far in ACC action.

Already they've beaten NC State, Maryland, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, with each win coming by seven or more points. They dominated both the Terrapins (79-59) and Demon Deacons (80-65) at home.

In the recent win over the Yellow Jackets (81-74), their resolve was tested to the max. Pittsburgh was down three at halftime but out-scored Georgia Tech 49-39 after the interval to get the win.

Talib Zanna was instrumental in the victory, scoring 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. Lamar Patterson was careless with the ball (seven turnovers), but still posted a solid 12/7/7 line, while James Robinson and Cameron Wright combined for 30 points.

It was the sixth straight win for the Panthers, who have responded in the perfect way since a heart-breaking one-point loss to Cincinnati in the middle of December.

NCAA Basketball Picks: Saturday Picks of the Day

Syracuse Orange

Syracuse's biggest test of the season awaits on Saturday, regardless of the fact they'll be playing in front of their amazing fanbase inside the Carrier Dome.

The Orange have passed all the tests that have been put in front of them so far and remain unbeaten. They haven't had an easy schedule either – already they've beaten Villanova, Indiana, North Carolina, Baylor and Minnesota.

Five days ago Syracuse stormed back to beat Boston College by 10 on the road. They made all the big plays down the stretch and ended up covering the spread of 8.5 points after it looked very unlikely they'd do so earlier on.

Trevor Cooney paced the Orange with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting, while Tyler Ennis did a little of everything with 12 points, five assists, three rebounds and six steals. CJ Fair and Jerami Grant were the other two Syracuse players to score at least 12 points.

Jim Boeheim has done another outstanding job with this year's version of the team, but let's see if he has his guys ready for this stern challenge that an experienced Pittsburgh bunch will provide.

NCAA Basketball Pick

What a battle this should be.

We fully expect Pittsburgh to come out with a lot of energy and start out quick. Many times we've seen a slow start out of Syracuse, but we've also witnessed them settle in and dominate on countless occasions as well.

In all honesty, it's just too hard to pick against the Orange at the Carrier Dome, especially with a savvy player in Ennis running the point. Though he's only a freshman, he plays with incredible composure and rarely makes the wrong decision. Look for him to be instrumental in another big win for Syracuse.

Pick: Syracuse Orange -5

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